It’s September now, so summer is officially over. Labor Day is Monday, which makes this a four day weekend at the box office, but while summer movies try to take advantage of holiday schedules, this weekend is the beginning of the fall slump (even if Summer A titles dried up nearly a month ago). There may be some money movies in the next two months, but big business titles won’t get released again until the first week of November. Which means last weekend‘s big winner The Help has a shot of taking the #1 slot yet again…
The Debt has been in a can for over a year. I saw it in 2010 as it hit the festival circuit, but when it appeared to have no academy chances it died quickly. At the time it was owned by Miramax and their production company has been in tumult for a while now, which means that it isn’t the worst sign that the picture sat around (it’s okay). That said, Focus put it in a slot that says “well, maybe the lack of competition will work for the movie.” It’s also worth noting that Sam Worthington starred in one of the biggest pictures of all time (remember Avatar?), but is no box office draw. Even if the film gets over ten million for the four day, there are such lowered expectations that if the film does any business that’s probably a relief to itself.
NASA has recently disavowed Apollo 18, which is another picture that got bumped around the release calender. 18 finally got a “low expectations” weekend, which isn’t a good sign. With a PG-13 rating, the film is also coming after three weekends in a row of horror releases – all of which opened to disappointing numbers. Most of which might have benefited from a release date closer to Halloween. Regardless, Apollo 18 will be lucky to get over $25 Million domestic all in.
And then there’s Shark Night 3-D. It had a great Comic-con campaign, but that they haven’t shown the movie to critics, and that it’s PG-13 is probably going to hurt it. Granted, Jaws was PG when released (the argument was that it’s not like audiences could imitate the violence on screen), but with a film like this gratuitous nudity would help cement the appeal. To that the internet has – for better or worse – changed how actresses view nudity.
Where it used to be something that might be able to interest an audience in seeing a picture (the 80′s were chock full of slobs vs. snobs movies where nudity was one of the selling points), currently the internet will post a nude scene in a film shortly after the film’s release (and sometimes before). Where there might have been a sense for a coming-up starlet that one could do a nude scene in a film and have those movies disappear, now it’s often the first or second image available on the web (that is, if your safe search is off).
What this means is that doing nudity (while never that appealing for most actresses) now exists in a totally different way than it did ten years ago. Which is partly why there isn’t that much nudity in mainstream movies (on top of studios preferring to hit the four quadrant marketplace) – even in an R-rated horror film like Fright Night. And though how the industry shifts is unknown, it’s more than likely that this is a permanent change. For those hungry to see young starlets naked, you’re more likely to get a phone hacking scandal than on screen nudity (though which are “scandals” and which are legitimate hacks is hard to tell).
So, for the three day, let’s make some predictions:
- The Help – $11.2 Million
- Apollo 18 – $9.5 Million
- Shark Night – $6.9 Million
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $5.5 Million
- The Debt – $5.3 Million
It’s a dead weekend, which means the new films could do much worse than I predicted, though I can’t imagine the numbers going up too much. It’s possible Apollo could take The Help for the three day, but lose the four-day. If it weren’t a dead weekend we’d have better movies to discuss.
What are you going to see this weekend?